By Jessica Schnur
Jonathan positioned the final pumpkin on his living room mantle as the orange glow illuminated his fingertips. He’d been setting up his house since nine in the morning, meticulously planning, plotting, and purchasing everything he needed for the perfect Halloween party. He had spent countless nights perusing the isles of those pop-up halloween seasonal stores, the ones that take over a dying business venue and eat it from the inside out, like a parasite, converting it into a spooky utopia for the sacred night of tricks and treats. His house was nearly complete, and all he had left was to hang up the last of his decorative lights. He reached up his arms, stretching as far as he could but to no avail: he could not reach the top of his window to line it with a festive twinkle. He slowly tightened his grip around his arm and yanked it down, tearing it from his socket with a small click of his humerus lightly tapping against his scapula. Arm in hand, he extended it upwards, finally reaching the top of the window as he began to tape the lights around the border.
The sky melted into an orange hue as the sun departed for the west. Ravens over head chased the sunset, diving into the evening sky and swallowed by the dusk. Their caws echoed through the open window, as Jonathan adjusted his tie, carefully weaving his fingers through the fabric. The party was nearly upon him, and he wanted his costume to be perfect. He had invited all of his coworkers, even his boss, to his little rinky-dink shindig: spending hour upon hour emailing and forwarding information to everyone in the workplace, carefully counting over the RSVP’s and taking names down of those who said they would attend. But there was only one name he hoped for. One name that rang through his skull as he desperately searched through every inbox and spam folder in hopes of seeing her name.
The doorbell chimed in the foyer below. With a final breath rattling through his ribcage, Jonathan propelled himself down the stairs, each step clicking against the hardwood steps. The door beheld his boss and his wife, arm in arm. They exchanged their greetings and Jonathan offered them inside.
“Ah, a human office worker,” the wife cooed as she stepped through the threshold, “very scary!” Her hair hissed and slithered about her head, the green scales of the tiny serpents contrasting her pale skin. Her husband slipped his arm around her waist, as the two descended into living room. The wife beamed as they ventured further and further into the room, admiring the decorations that adorned every square inch of each surface.
“How adorable, a human office building. Very festive.”
Her husband, however, was not impressed. He did not care for Jonathan or his paper mache copier machine, and it showed. He reached up and slicked a loose strand of hair back into its greased-back position, his hands pausing over his horns.
“Tacky,” was all he would say. He thumbed the handle of a briefcase he was holding, the leather blending into the sleek black of the suit he adorned. His wife explained to Jonathan that her husband was supposed to be a human politician, and how she was supposed to be his human secretary. Jonathan couldn’t help but admire the wife’s dedication to the holiday. She had made the costumes herself, she explained, and the details were so spot on it was scary, from the orange spray tan to the briefcase full of money. He reveled in thought that his boss was a little too perfectly matched for his costume, considering he sucked the souls out of the living and cast them into damnation as a career.
More and more guests poured through the door as the night went on, until his living room was nearly overflowing with monsters all donned in people-clothing. There was a low roar of laughter and music all about his house, as others gathered to discuss their costumes. A fish-man in a suit holding scantron paper and money bags leaned against the watercooler, he was in deep discussion with a vampire dressed in a hawaiian shirt and shorts, with a furry winter hat upon his head and a wool scarf hanging around his neck. Jonathan leaned against the wall, his eyes surveying the crowd.
“What are you supposed to be?” He could hear the vampire inquire the fish-man.
“I’m supposed to be human student loans. My wife and kids just watched that movie about the human that signed forty years of her life away in order to pay for college. It was so scary, my daughter had to sleep in our room for a week. That’s how I came up with this little number.” The fish-man gave the vampire a once over. “And you are?”
“Human global warming,” the vampire lifted his arms as a gesture to show off his costume.
Jonathan’s gaze met the door, the words of the two colleagues blurred as he stopped paying attention and focused on the brass knob. He imagined it turning in his head, and there she would be. Walking through the front door, laughing and smiling and talking to him. He hated himself for getting his hopes up: she never sent an RSVP, so there was no way she was going to show. The shut door taunted him, sealed shut for the rest of the night until the party was over and the guests long gone. But still, all he could do was stand there and imagine the little knob turning over and over again in his head.
That’s funny, he thought to himself, it really does look like the knob is turning. He craned his neck forward, trying to get a better look as the brass glinted against the light. He felt himself slowly peel away from his corner, dodging party goers and coworkers. He felt something within himself, a spark, a glimpse of hope. He elbowed his way into the foyer, the sounds of the party fading behind him. He stood there, staring at the little door knob before him, staring at his reflection in the brilliantly polished brass. Turn. The only word that relayed through his skull. Turn, turn, turn, oh please turn.
With a slight click, the knob jiggled. Jonathan held his breath, feeling the air suspended in his ribcage, holding it there for moments that felt like eternities. He slowly slipped his hand around the knob, feeling the cold metal chill his bones. He couldn’t bring himself to turn it. He couldn’t bring himself to open that door and lose this feeling, this hope. He clenched his jaw bone, but just as he braced himself to tear the door open, he felt the hard wood of the mahogany colliding with his face. He stumbled back, meeting the ground unkindly. His bones scattered across the floor, with his arm managing to land in a nearby punch bowl and dowsing partygoers with the red juice. One witch dressed like a human prom queen was unluckiest of them all, as the bowl tipped over and drenched her from head to toe in red.
“Oh my gosh,” a voice said, a sweet and lovely voice that Jonathan had longed for all night, “I’m so sorry!”
Jonathan brought his gaze up, his eyes meeting with hers. She cowered in the doorway, tucking herself behind the wooden mass before him, shielding her from his gaze.
“I thought you weren’t coming.”
She was taken aback at those words, slowly bringing her face out from behind the door.
“I forgot to give you my RSVP…” She clutched a small red envelope in her wrapped hands, a small heart scrawled on the top right corner. “I was hoping you wouldn’t mind, I have it here with me now…”
Jonathan’s arm slithered across the living room carpet, digging its bony fingers into the fibers as it pulled itself closer to him. His body noisily clicked along as it reformed into the framework of Jonathan. He couldn’t help but watch her, his gaze following her as she hastily rushed to scoop up his bones, and struggled to help with piecing him back together, occasionally misplacing a femur or tibia. Once his body was intact, or close enough at least, she turned to him. A small smile inched across her face, tucked away by the ancient linens that hugged her features. She slowly bent down and gingerly lifted Jonathan’s head off the ground. Their eyes locked, and for a moment, she froze. It was almost as if they were having a conversation with their eyes, all of the unspoken words longing to be said were exchanged in an instant, and the two smiled. She adjusted Jonathan’s head back into place upon his body, her hands lingering around his cheekbones, until she slowly brought them down to her sides.
“So, what are you supposed to be?” Jonathan broke the silence. The two didn’t move, keeping their bodies close.
“A human accountant.”
Jonathan smiled. Impulsively, he reached his hand down and took hers. She smiled, and handed him the little red envelope. “Just so you know, I’m coming to your party.” The two laughed, and entered the party, hand in hand.